Unfortunately, unlike awful yearbook photographs and (typically) braces, bullying isn’t something you can put behind you as an adult. Bullies can exist in offices as well. They’re actually more prevalent than you may assume.
According to a national poll conducted by the Workplace Bullying Institute, 19% of respondents have directly been bullied at work, while another 19% have witnessed it happen to someone else.
It’s unwanted, unearned, and unwarranted, similar to sexual harassment. Bullying at work can have serious consequences for your mental and physical health, including substantial stress, anxiety, depression, trauma, high blood pressure, gastrointestinal problems, and more.
It is quite harmful. It creates an environment in which you are constantly fearful and unable to be yourself. You don’t need the added stress of a bully when people are upset, confused, and concerned about their jobs all day, every day.
What Constitutes Workplace Bullying?
Bullying is defined as “repeated, health-harming abuse of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators,” according to the WBI. The target is intimidated, threatened, or humiliated by the abusive behavior, which includes verbal abuse. It can, and frequently does, obstruct the target’s capacity to do their tasks.
Bullying in the workplace extends far beyond a little irritation. Rather, it creates a psychological power imbalance between the one conducting the bullying and their target or targets, leading to a sense of helplessness in the person on the receiving end.
Bullying, unlike harassment, is not punishable by law. What’s the difference between the two? Harassment is defined as mistreatment based on a protected class, such as sex, race, religion, or national origin, and includes situations when someone or someone’s create a hostile work environment. It may be toxic and soul-crushing if the terrible behavior is unconnected to one of those, but it is not illegal.
How To Deal With Your Workplace Bully
1. Speak Up As Soon As Possible
The good news is that you have a limited amount of time to intervene before becoming a long-term target of a workplace bully. One of the nicest things you can do for yourself is to speak up in the moment when someone mistreats you and squash it, because everyone prefers the road of least resistance, right?
- Make a point of emphasizing their values
- Describe the issue and why it’s a problem.
- Repeat their name several times.
- Don’t forget to pay attention to your body language. Stand tall with your arms at your sides and your nose high. If you’re anxious about standing up, your arms will be folded, shoulders hunched, and you’ll be looking down.
The bad news is that ignoring bullying and allowing it to continue in its early stages would only make things worse. People frequently let it go, let it go, and let it go. And it may be too late by the time they know they’re being bullied. It might be nearly impossible for the target to correct the power imbalance after it has been established.
To put it another way, if you summon the strength to speak up after months of being bullied, the abuse is unlikely to cease, and it may even worsen. So, if you’ve gotten that far down the road, you might want to reconsider your strategy.
2. Keep A Record Of The Abuse And Your Performance
Start documenting if it took you a long time to comprehend the full gravity of what was occurring to you and you feel like you’ve wasted your chance to react promptly.
Keep a record documenting who, what, when, where, and why events occur. If the bullying occurs in a staff meeting, return to your desk and write down who else was in the meeting, what was said, why it was said, and try to put in as much detail as possible surrounding the facts of the issue. You’ll want to be able to give specific examples of the behaviors you’re describing if you decide to report the bully later.
Additionally, begin archiving any emails or other documentation that supports your side of the story. If your supervisor is criticizing your performance, gather evidence that shows quantifiable results from projects you’re working on, as well as any thank-you notes you’ve received from other stakeholders.
3. Practice Self-Care Outside Of Work
Bullying can have a significant impact on you both at work and outside of it. However, attempting to balance negative and positive influences can be beneficial.
If possible, participate in activities outside of work that will help you feel good about yourself. Join a softball team, practice yoga, or do anything else that makes you happy. Spend time with your friends and family and count on them for support, but keep in mind that frequently ranting about your work troubles may cause your relationships to suffer.
Also, think about seeing a therapist or counselor for professional help. Specifically, find someone who understands trauma. Learn more about how a therapist can be of help here.
4. Speak With HR Or A Higher-Ranking Official
Decide who you want to chat with first. The type of HR employee you’re working with determines whether or not you should go to HR. One type of HR person is concerned with compliance and rules, while the other is concerned with culture and people. You might have problems with the former, but they don’t need a corporate policy to help you with the latter.
Second, regardless of who you approach, consider how you might make a commercial argument rather than a personal plea. Calculate the bully’s cost to the organization in terms of turnover, absenteeism, and lost productivity, among other things. At this point, your documentation can also help because you’ll be able to provide specific examples of time and money squandered.
Finally, consider what it is that you desire. Is it simply that you want people to know or that you want their assistance? Do you wish this person to be transferred? What do you require from Human Resources?
What happens if you don’t find what you’re looking for? It’s fine if the answer is that you’ll resign. In the end, your dignity, self-respect, and psychological well-being are far more essential than the amount of money you earn.
This post was developed via a partnership with BetterHelp.